Spatial planning deficits in limb apraxia

Mary Ann Clark, Alma S. Merians, Abhay Kothari, Howard Poizner, Beth Macauley, Leslie J.Gonzalez Rothi, Kenneth M. Heilman

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116 Scopus citations


Geschwind (1975) proposed a disconnection model in which an apraxic subject is unable to carry out movements to command because the left hemisphere that comprehended the verbal command is disconnected from the right premotor and motor areas which controls the left hand. An alternate model, however, proposes that apraxia results from destruction of spatiotemporal representations of learned movement stored in the left hemisphere (Heilman, 1979). The disconnection hypothesis would predict that apraxic subjects should be able to correctly imitate gestures and correctly use actual tools since these tasks do not require language. The movement representation model predicts that imitation and actual tool use would also be impaired. Motion analyses were performed on the trajectories of repetitive 'slicing' gestures made in a series of conditions in which contextual cues were introduced in a graded fashion. Four cue conditions were presented: no cues (verbal command), object present, tool present and both object and tool present. Positions of the hand, wrist, elbow, and shoulder were digitized from neighbouring views, reconstructed in three dimensions and analysed with respect to specific spatiotemporal features of the trajectories. Three subjects with limb apraxia, who had lesions that included left parietal cortex, and four neurologically intact subjects participated. The apraxic subjects showed disturbances in planning the movement of the hand in space across the cue conditions. For example, they showed deficits in the plane of motion, the shape of the trajectory and in the coupling of hand speed and trajectory shape even when given full contextual cues. These data support the hypothesis that apraxia can result from the destruction of spatiotemporal representations of learned movement, rather than from a disconnection between the receptive language areas in the left hemisphere and the contralateral motor cortices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1093-1106
Number of pages14
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1994

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Neurology


  • Apraxia
  • Movement representations
  • Wrist kinematics


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